The world has gone crazy with Sports Utility Vehicle. The appeal of cruising in a high-riding, super comfortable and very stylish SUV far outweighs that of other cars. Where sedans were once the backbone of the auto market, they are now a dull reminder of the past. Families may have eagerly craved German sports sedans in the early 2000s, but times have changed. It’s all about the SUV now.
The market is awash with options. If you want a chic style statement, the Range Rover Evoque is ideal. Those looking for ultimate thrills at high speeds can simply choose an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrofoglio. As for SUVs, depending on budget and needs, there is a vehicle to tick all the boxes.
Yet it is the lower end of the market that remains the most competitive and exciting. With manufacturers trying to lure buyers to their driver’s seat. Those looking to buy a budget ride may be a little baffled. But there’s no need to get lost in a forest of choices, as these are the 10 best SUVs under $30,000.
10 Ford Bronco Sport (From $28,815)
One of the most exciting vehicles on this list. The Ford Bronco Sport comes from a strong off-road line. All models come standard with four-wheel drive. In the base spec, the Bronco Sport gets an impressive list of features and a snappy drivetrain.
Powered by an 8-speed automatic transmission, the turbocharged 1.5-litre Ecoboost engine delivers 181 horsepower. This makes for a 0-60 mph sprint of 8.1 seconds. It also delivers 28 mpg on the highway. Comfortable, capable and very economical. The Bronco Sport is a great SUV.
9 Hyundai Tucson (From $25,800)
In the basic SE trim, the Hyundai Tucson still comes with plenty of tempting equipment. Touches like LED headlights, wireless connectivity and an 8-inch color display. The luggage space is exceptional and passenger comfort is high. It makes for a decent off-roader with its 4×4 system.
Powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, the Tuscon delivers 187 horsepower. The economy on the highway is expected to be around 33 mpg. The Tucson hits 100 km/h in a respectable 8.8 seconds. Well built, cleverly appointed and very good to drive, the Tucson SE is a great family transporter.
8 Buick Encore GX (From $25,595)
Under the hood, the entry-level Buick Encore GX gets a 1.2-litre Ecotec engine. A 3-cylinder engine with 137 hp. Aimed at more frugal drivers, it delivers 31 mpg on the highway. With a torque of 162 lb/ft, the Encore GX is well suited for city riding.
Stylishly designed, the Encore GX is packed with equipment. Additional equipment can also be specified, with the price still under $30,000. The smallest Buick on the market, the Encore GX is a great commuter vehicle that won’t run out of pocket.
7 Mazda CX50 (From $27,550)
Even on the base trim levels, the Mazda CX50 impresses. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine pumps 187 hp. This makes for a 0-60 mph sprint time of 8.6 seconds. A class act, the CX50 drives superbly on and off the highway. The 4×4 system provides a lot of grip.
Beautifully decorated the interior is very comfortable. The equipment level is high. The fit and finish are superb. Able to tackle both the urban jungle and a side road trail. The Mazda CX50 is an excellent choice for those who want an SUV that covers all bases.
6 Jeep Renegade (From $24,695)
Jeep has been leading the SUV load for decades. Building dedicated off-roaders that will master the wilderness. The Renegade takes that technology and throws smoothness into city streets. Compact, well equipped and inexpensive to run. It’s a great mix of skills at a great price.
An entry-level Renegade Sport gets a 1.3-litre Multiair engine connected to a 9-speed automatic gearbox. This spirited engine produces 177 horsepower. While the Renegade isn’t behind the competition in road prowess, the Renegade excels in the off-road. It will also reach 60 mph in a respectable 9 seconds.
5 Kia Soul (From $19,790)
The cheapest car on this list also has the most character. Still a funky ride, the Kia Soul offers a lot for little. Perfect for an urban lifestyle, it offers plenty of space, comfort and technology. The 2.0-litre engine also delivers 147 horsepower and 132 lb/ft of torque through an automatic transmission.
So competitively priced, going up through the Kia Soul range doesn’t hurt financially. The top spec EX weighs in at $23,390. This model comes with heated seats, a push button start and a host of driver safety features. Kia offers great value for money.
4 Chevrolet Trailblazer (From $21,800)
The Trailblazer is marketed as if it were up for anything. With the LS model as an entry-level model in the range. This version comes with a fuel-efficient 1.2-litre turbo engine. Its 137 hp three-cylinder engine delivers plenty of power when it’s needed. While returning 33mpg.
The Trailblazer looks modern both inside and out. Despite its smaller size, there is also plenty of space. The trim levels are decent and it’s a joy to use on a daily basis. Available with four-wheel drive, the Chevy Trailblazer will tackle light trails as well. It is a solid all-rounder.
3 Honda CRV 2023 (From $26,800)
The Honda CRV was around long before SUVs were fashionable. And this latest version is the best yet. The base LX gets a whole range of tasty standard equipment, offers plenty of interior space and has rock-solid reliability. All of this offered well under the $30,000 price tag.
Under the hood is a powerful 1.5-litre turbo engine with 190 hp. Equipped with the Honda Sensing suite, driver safety is improved. Lane assist, anti-collision braking and adaptive cruise are all included. The Honda CRV is a brilliant family oriented SUV that looks great.
2 Subaru Crosstrek (From $23.645)
Subaru remains legendary for AWD vehicles and is legendary. They have been offering robust, reliable vehicles for decades. And the Crosstrek is no exception. The basic version delivers exceptional value. Giving a very capable, comfortable car.
The Crosstrek comes with a 2.0-liter 152 horsepower engine and has a ground clearance of 8.7 inches. Slightly less equipped than its rivals inside, the Crosstrek delivers its best off-road performance. Good to get off the beaten track. A Crosstrek keeps most SUVs stuck in the mud.
1 Nissan Rogue (From $27,150)
The Nissan Rogue is a mid-sized SUV and has excellent fuel economy. The FWD Rogue S model comes with a 1.5-liter engine rated at 37 mpg. This 3-cylinder unit pumps out an impressive 201 horsepower. It also sprints to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds. All very impressive numbers.
On the road, the Rogue is worth driving. A healthy 225 lb/ft torque packs a lot of punch. The interior is well finished and fully equipped. The Rogue also offers plenty of passenger and luggage space. It is an excellent SUV that will serve owners well.